Stanford University
Two women sit across from each other at a table, one is holding a book.

What Is the Core?

The humanities are a central part of a college education. Studying literature, philosophy, history, and religious studies strengthens valuable skills in research, communication, and careful thought. It exposes us to powerful ideas from around the world and across time that broaden our horizons and help us reflect on how to live.

With this in mind, Stanford has created the Humanities Core as a series of guided explorations for undergraduates. HumCore is global and collaborative. You will take part in the discussions that human beings have been having about culture, art, literature, politics, science and more over the last four thousand years all over our world.

HumCore classes meet twice a week. In the first class session, you will focus on a text or object selected by your professor, with a focus on the specific area or question named in the class title (e.g. Mediterranean Science and Philosophy). For the second meeting, you will meet in a collaborative conversation with the other students and faculty from the HumCore classes in session that quarter.

The study of a topic like modernity in China may feel very separate from twentieth century history in Europe or North America. But the collaborative sessions will show that thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific were listening to the same songs of progress. By exploring a tradition in depth with your professor, and then putting those ideas in a wider context with other faculty and peers, you will build an invaluable framework for understanding the world and yourself.